Preface and Acknowledgements

The organisation was set up to help people to understand how power is being used, to make research information readily available, and to comment on misuses of power.  The books were written to classify the different types of power that people exert over each other and to link research material to each type, so that readers can quickly see who benefits and what is likely to happen if the pattern is repeated.

The research was prompted by the difficulties I experienced in trying to understand why America and others invaded Iraq in 2003.  As I read the published material I began to realise that people frequently switch between different types of argument – sometimes unconsciously, sometimes perhaps intentionally.  These switches of argument make it difficult to see clearly.  I felt that it should be possible to reach a better understanding by identifying what types of power were being exercised and by whom.

Many of the patterns of power are huge subjects in their own right, but it is only possible to touch on the surface of each topic in a pocket-sized book.  Previous writers have addressed these questions, usually only one or two at a time, in more detail and with more academic rigour.

The pattern descriptions refer to numerous sources, so I have avoided the use of the first person in the text and I am using a pen-name on the cover.  I have acknowledged all my sources, in the endnotes and the bibliography, and links have been provided to source material on the Internet where possible.  Many of the references are to items of news, which are used to illustrate the different uses of power; for these, I have tried to select material from organisations who maintain good on-line archives, such as the BBC, The Economist and Prospect magazine, because the Internet links to some less robust sources are more likely to get broken.  The books act as portals to this extended information.

I gratefully acknowledge the help of my wife – who has commented, proof-read and suggested changes but most of all has discussed the concepts with me, providing a lively challenge to my personal views.

The RSA helped me to carry out research in India, and the RSA Fellows in Delhi were particularly generous.

I also acknowledge the role played by the discussion groups that I belong to, which have provided a wide range of viewpoints.

I am grateful to the following people for reading, and in some cases re-reading, parts of this book as it has emerged: Chris Ellis, Ken Figueredo, Geoff Hoon, David Lokkerbol, Richard Nevill, Mike Radcliffe, Bill Swan, and Chris Taylor.

I thank Anna Mesber for a useful contribution.

In later editions I shall also acknowledge the contributors to my blog at, naming the people whose views are incorporated.



This page is intended to form part of Edition 4 of the Patterns of Power series of books.  An archived copy of it is held at